Doctors visits, mental health days and family troubles. Just a few of the most common reasons students miss school. 

In middle school, teachers were more understanding of the uncomplicated things like doctors appointments or sick days, simply because a parent could send a note in, or make a phone call to the school, excusing their child. As kids get older, this is unfortunately no longer the case. Schoolwork becomes more rigorous and schedules become more hectic, causing a simple phone call to no longer receive an empathetic response from administration. Instead of a short at-home stay and then returning right back to school without any problems, students have to experience stress, non-understanding teachers and the possibility of a large setback in their school-work. While this might not be as severe for some students, this wasn’t the case for me. 

Since middle school, I’ve had to miss several days of school a year due to family problems, multiple sick days and occasional mental health days. While I have never felt completely secure taking a “sick day,” they are inevitable. However, mental health days are not as understood as other absence excuses. Everyone is in need of a mental health day at some point in their lives, especially when they are dealing with a stressful school or work environment. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several benefits to taking a mental health day such as an improvement in attitude, increased productivity and reduced feelings of burnout. Taking a mental health day once in a while has always helped me calm down from the stresses of everyday life. Students should be able to prioritize their wellbeing without the fear of judgment or misunderstanding from the adults at school. 

While I’ve had my fair share of mental health breaks from school, one of the biggest reasons for many students missing is family troubles. When it comes to dealing with stress for any student, especially younger ones, many don’t know how to properly cope. When stress inducing situations occur in the homes of children, it lessens their desire to want to go to school and interact with their peers. Whenever I have gone through something personal, that involved my family or simply my at-home life, I have not wanted to show up to school overwhelmed with the overwhelming pressures of schoolwork or social interactions. When stress is increased at home, this makes students unlikely to want to come to school. Since administrations are not aware of these problems, they need to be more easy on students who are struggling with issues of absence.  

Finally, something that is not often taken into consideration is the issue of students ages up to 15 not being able to drive themselves to school, or even students who may be of age, but without a car or license. Both my freshman and sophomore years of high school were full of tardies to my first classes of the day because I was unable to drive myself to school. Since I could not take myself, a family friend took me to school everyday. Life happens and sometimes she would not be able to pick me up or drop me off on time because of personal conflicts, resulting in a tardy slip or absence email. Schools need to show more sympathy for students incapable of driving themselves to school because it is not their fault. 

Some may argue that while students do happen to go through things causing an absence or tardy, it is legally required to attend school and when this is not done, one’s education is put on the line. While it is important to regularly attend school, events often come up that require an absence of  just a day. If missing school is a big concern for a student, most teachers have their lessons recorded and online for the student to access so they aren’t at a complete disadvantage. Missing one day of school because of mental health days, family issues or not being in control of how you get to school will not cost a child their education or get anyone in legal troubles. 

I have had many tardies and absences and have not always gotten the kind response schools should give to a student in the situation I was in. School administrators and teachers need to understand that students, just like faculty, go through problems and need the support from their teachers during these times. In order for students to feel more understood and welcomed back after missing school, schools need to learn to understand personal problems and treat students with the respect everyone deserves in times like these.